Una lenta nave per la Cina. Murakami RMX By Hideo Furukawa


Super weird, but actually quite intriguing. Fiction, Fantasy 2.5 Stars. Very quick read! I'll be reading the story being remixed before I review.

Homage to/Remix of Haruki Murakami's short story Slow Boat to China - Available at JSTOR (free registration required). Also included in the short story collection The Elephant Vanishes. Fiction, Fantasy Not quite 3.5 stars (3.25?)

While I strongly suspect this book is better in its original Japanese (the particular Japanese of the narrator plays a big part in the book's opening chapters) and I doubt any but those thoroughly familiar with the work of Haruki Murakami (the author Furukawa is remixing and paying homage to) will catch all this book's nuances and sly jokes, I still enjoyed this quite a bit.

Furukawa's narrator is more of whiner and distinctly less likeable than those found in most of Murakami's stories (certainly more than in 'Slow Boat to China'*, the story Furukawa is explicitly remixing) but, as annoying as he can be, he and the story gain depth and heart as the novella unfolds and by the end I was moved by his tale. The introduction of another narrative voice via magazine articles a little more than halfway through helps expand the emotional palette of the book, too.

I'd definitely recommend this to Murakami fans and readers interested in the ways contemporary Japanese writers are engaging with the literature of their immediate past.

*For those who are interested in the refreshing their memory of the Murakami story before reading Furukawa's novella, 'Slow Boat to China' can be found in English translation in the collection The Elephant Vanishes Fiction, Fantasy Simpatico omaggio di Furukawa Hideo allo scrittore Haruki Murakami in cui viene ripreso un suo vecchio racconto e remixato fino a farlo diventare un romanzo a sé stante.
Piacevolissimo da leggere, anche se costantemente si instilla nel lettore la convinzione che si tratti solo di un esercizio di stile che soffre di ben più di un murakamismo, ma senza troppa magia.
Gli ingredienti sono: un ragazzo con il desiderio di evasione, tre donne che gli hanno sconvolto la vita e che l'hanno abbandonato, un disco di musica jazz, una punta di onirico.
Ci sono persino 5 pagine in cui, Murakamismo puro al limite del vorrei ma non posso, si discute della somiglianza delle tette di una tipa con la geografia nipponica.
Alla fine sembra di leggere uno di quei romanzetti di formazione un po' sopra le righe, piacevole piacevole, ma nulla di più. Fiction, Fantasy I must admit I didn't quite get this, certainly not the ending, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. I haven't read the Haruki Murakami short story Slow Boat to China that this novella is a homage to (the author says as much at the end of the book) but I could sure see the similarities with Murakami -- strange, sexy women, a disaffected young-ish narrator, a melancholy mood, references to pop songs, an obsession with boobs, and a plot that was more one man's search for meaning than anything actually happening. But in amongst all that was a coming of age story (actually three) focussed on young love that was touching.

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I did not get this, in fact I am kind of embarrassed how totally I did not get this. I read the words but didn't understand their deeper meaning. It felt a bit like I am lacking the framework needed to understand this book. I feel the need to point out that this is totally my fault - I know nearly nothing about Japan, so I wasn't even sure if the places visited by the protagonist are real or not.

How baffling this whole book was for me is best exemplified thusly: my copy has letters missing (the ths at the start of sentences were missing as well as the letters ft if they followed each other) and I am not even sure if that wasn't in fact on purpose. I have no idea how to adequately write a review of a book that I so fundamentally did not get.

The narrator is the complete focus of this work, the book is in fact highly introspective in nature and as such his story is told in a circular and repeating manner. He has tried and failed to leave Tokyo at least on three separate occasions and is sure he will never be able to leave and start anew somewhere else (it is never explained why he wants to leave or why he feels like his attempts are doomed). He reminisces on his three girlfriends and how those relationships end. Then there are interludes written by one of his friends who works as a free-lance journalist and I don't quite know what they were about.

As I said, I just did not get it - the whole subtext went past me and the whole experience was baffling to me - and not in a particularly fun way.

I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Pushkin Press in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for that! Fiction, Fantasy It was hard to get into the story.

Maybe the original Japanese version is better.

The translator may not describe the way and the deep meaning of his tale.

Anyway, this book is telling the story of Tokyo and the protagonist, Boku, and 3 girlfriends.

Fiction, Fantasy The circle of life, for many individuals, is completed within a small radius of their place of origin. Boku was born in Tokyo, feared he would die in Tokyo and made several botched attempts to leave. His dreams of life in Tokyo were colorless and murky. Boku had three girlfriends. One was taken from him, one left him as a result of mistakes and the third one, he sent away.

As a fifth grader, Boku became obsessed with death as The Big Limit. He stopped attending school, slept all day and kept a dream diary resulting in his being shipped off to an alternative school for dropouts. Enter girlfriend number one. By attending summer school, she was out of her mother's hair for the summer. Summer ends abruptly, halting the budding friendship and romance.

Boku's university years provided a second chance. What started as physical stirrings and incredible chemistry led to love. Girlfriend two was determined to leave Tokyo for Okinawa, so much so, that she called from the airport holding two tickets to Okinawa. Boku can leave Tokyo with her if he arrives at the airport. It is a race against time.

Fast forward to our narrator's new decision. If he can't leave Tokyo, he can keep Tokyo out of his business venture. His cafe called The Power of Kate is an establishment with aromas and flavors foreign to Tokyo. Girlfriend three, Knife Girl, the chef, will leave Tokyo soon to fulfill her dreams.

One cannot deny the fact that circumstance is a factor in his inability to leave Tokyo. Time marches on and it is incumbent upon Boku to navigate his own destiny. If the odds are against him, he has allowed them to be so. All he needs is a dose of hope and to exercise free will.

Slow Boat by Hideo Furukawa is a story of Boku's inability to change his focus from inaction to self betterment, hopefulness and happiness. Yes, he is often misguided and would profit from better communication skills, but hope is still within reach. Slow Boat, a novella, highlights a life tormented by feeling there is no way out and no escape. An excellent read.

Thank you Steerforth Press,Pushkin Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review Slow Boat.

Fiction, Fantasy Slow Boat plunge into a man's attempt to get away from his past and present in Tokyo, as well as the three relationships that define each effort. The narrator was written as someone who is at odd with the world around him, and can comparatively be irksome.

First of all, I'm sorry, but I can never take anything seriously of Freudian followers — knowing how he did not use science to derive his idea. Therefore, some of the narrator's thoughts and derivation seems facetious to me. But considering the period of time of the said thought, it does make sense.

The most obvious take that I hate about this book is the objectification of women. Though this could be Furukawa's undertaking for sombre tone and painstaking introspection in his novella, it makes me uncomfortable all the same. On a side note, this was an easy read compare to other literature I’ve came across, which I like that about the book. The use of words here — that is about the limits of language, is surprising and distinctive. The chapter for Slow Boat 8 truly moves me.

Nevertheless, I'm not sure what to make of it though. Knowing that Furukawa propound this as Murakami's loving remix should be a hint enough that this wouldn't work out as much as I expect it to. I believe it's a matter of how you decrypt the message of this book, just sadly, not something I'm finding myself latching onto or understanding. Half way and I'm still hoping I get what Furukawa tries to deliver but to no avail. Fiction, Fantasy Boat stories…
These Japanese novellas - translated by David Boyd…
with coming-of-age themes are funny, and charming.

The poor guy is slightly adorable and pathetic. Among other problems he deals with, he feels trapped.
In the very first sentence he says:
“I never made it out of Tokyo”.

We then follow the young man - from grade school to young adult - through the different boat stories; Boat One, Boat Two, Boat Three….
through Eight of these whimsical tales - with Chronicles of the days in 1985, 1994, and 2000.

He meets his first girlfriend in
Boat Two: “Keep Both Hands Flat On Your Lap”…
It’s a very funny story about how he gets kicked out of school in the fifth grade -
and is sent to an alternative school for dropouts, called “The End of the World”
It feels much like outdoor summer camp.
It is there where he first falls in love.
She was in the sixth grade, a year above him and a real “looker”…. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her sixth-grade boobs.
They get closer - they talk (she talks a lot); he has his first kiss, (his memory was a little fuzzy because he’s thinking back on his memories from twenty
years ago)
He said:
“All that matters to me is that she’s happy with how we are”.
“‘We’. Me and my sixth-grade girlfriend”.
“My first girlfriend”.
but on the last day of summer camp break— her mother picks her up and they drive away.
“No way out of Tokyo”.
“That was how I lost my first girlfriend”.

Boat Four:
“I was an ex-dropout who hit girls. Blacklisted. In middle school, likes and loves we’re flying all over the place. Boy and girls and unchained libidos. But I played no part in the adolescent melodrama. I was hanging out in my corner, alone, giving off bad vibes”.
“High School was easier on me. All boys. No girls meant no girls to hit”.

He has sex at age 19:
“Sex was in the air. In the workplace. And good luck curbing the sexual urges of a nineteen-year-old male”.

Throughout these stories we learn about his three failed girlfriends…

It has that Japanese-feeling—a fictionalized Memoir …
A slim book - not earth-shattering outstanding… but goes nicely with one’s morning breakfast, and beverage choice.

“It’s really strange. When I was ten or eleven, I did nothing but dream—now I was totally dry”.
“Life has a way of doing that—restoring balance. That’s how I see it, at least”.

3.5 Fiction, Fantasy

Un breve romanzo visionario, enigmatico e sorprendente, un omaggio a un celebre racconto di Murakami Haruki dallo stesso titolo, punto di partenza per una storia romantica, avventurosa, folle e fuor di sesto, come è nello stile di uno dei maggiori scrittori giapponesi contemporanei.

A Tokyo è la vigilia di Natale, e la città si è svuotata della consueta frenesia. Ad attraversare le sue strade, le stazioni della metro, i parchi, c’è un uomo che in quella giornata fredda e solitaria sembra aggirarsi senza meta immerso nelle sue riflessioni, come sospeso tra passato e futuro. I suoi pensieri hanno la voce di un giovane Holden segnato dal trascorrere degli anni, che però non ha mai perso lo sguardo libero da pregiudizi e la lingua tagliente. Mentre vaga, gli amori della sua vita rivivono nella sua mente, tre storie avute in momenti molto diversi, quando era un ragazzino in una scuola per bambini difficili, poi da studente all’università e infine nel piccolo ristorante di cui è stato il manager. Amori che sembrano segnati da un limite che è stato emotivo nella condivisione e nella comprensione reciproca, ma anche fisico, nell’incapacità dell’uomo di recarsi altrove, di lasciarsi Tokyo alle spalle, come se la città avesse un confine invalicabile, una barriera invisibile che sempre lo ha respinto. In questi tre amori, in tre fughe fallite, si svela un’esistenza singolare che pare non risolversi mai in qualcosa di compiuto. «Non mi resta che oltrepassare il confine in segreto, come un clandestino. Stavolta devo farcela, è la mia ultima speranza». Proprio in quel giorno di Natale, il protagonista si prepara all’estremo e definitivo tentativo di abbandonare per sempre la metropoli, per offrire a se stesso e al proprio destino uno spazio nuovo. Una lenta nave per la Cina. Murakami RMX

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